A recent post I blogged about investigating reflections which is one way into symmetry and can be linked to scientific and artistic explorations. Back in the outdoor space, more specific experiences can be provided for young children based upon their own discoveries in play.
Various reflective surfaces can be created or found. If an outdoor space is being developed think about making symmetrical features. In the nursery below, artificial puddles were part of the design features. Fancy that! The layout is also symmetrical:
CD’s are weatherproof and work if you need light catchers to keep birds away from vegetable patches! Or they make a lovely display:
Whilst space blankets are not officially toys, the sound, texture and reflective properties add fun to any outdoor space. Look at how this tree has been dressed up!
These portable seats are bright and have reflective properties. They are made from the insulation material that is put behind radiators – tough aluminium-covered bubble wrap:
Mirrors are “must-haves” for symmetry work at some point. Hiding or placing a selection of mirrors and different heights and in different positions helps children explore their environment in different ways. For example, place a mirror under a lightweight log, so that children can lift up the log and see its reflection in the mirror underneath.
I’m a fan of coloured mirrors. I think it’s the inner-kitch-within me surfacing. Mind you, children seem equally interested in them. Teach children how to reflect light off a mirror safely. Then they can have fun following the light patterns created outside. Coloured mirrors, provide different colours to follow:
Distorting mirrors such as convex and concave mirrors make investigations interesting. Having a selection of these along with portable mirrors of different sizes, colours and shapes can help so children can observe what they see in different ways.
Natural materials can be used to provide symmetry challenges. Ask children to find a natural object. Then ask them to find another one exactly the same. Discuss similarities and differences between the two objects. A partner activity can happen when one child has to collect a variety of materials and create a simple line pattern. Her partner has to find similar objects and create the symmetrical pattern as illustrated below:
Large scale symmetrical artwork can be undertaken outside. Provide materials for printing patterns – or use feet dipped in paint! There is often a sense of symmetry about children’s pattern making which can be encouraged by providing balanced sets of materials, e.g. building bricks, utensils and tools as well as natural materials.
Now I know I’ve not covered all the possibilities of symmetry work outside for young children. Please do share any good ideas that you know or have discovered too.